Thursday, October 3, 2013

Where Do We Go From Here?

I told Rowdy to get into the tub for a much needed bath and Grover, never wanting to be left out, joined him.  You can see Rowdy is anxious about the bath by his holding a soft toy.  Grover was banished from the bathroom before the water was turned on.

This morning was kind of a rough morning.  Our second (and last) alpaca pregnant for a fall cria this year delivered sometime in the early morning hours.  This was Micki, for whom this was her 4th cria.  I paid a lot of money for Micki several years ago as an unproven maiden female.  She had great genetics, lovely fine fiber and very nice conformation.  Cria number 1 was a small white male.  He was never very thrifty and kind of faded away at about 9 months old.  Cria #2, a year later, was another small male, and he never got very large (we nicknamed him Pocket Pal) but he did well and we sold him with a couple other young males when he was about a year old.  Number 3, a year later, was a full term 9 pound female, who died within 48 hours.  I think I thought she would make it, but was never strong enough.  That was 2 years ago and I decided last fall to give Micki one more chance.  So this morning, when I found a very small white cria kushed (good sign) next to mama when I went out, I was happy, yet unsure as to where this would go.  I picked up baby to move her and her mama into the building and then I went to go get towels and iodine.  Baby was very small, white, female.  But she was up in a kush position and not flat on the ground.  She was fairly dry.  It was a warm night, only down to about 60 degrees, so I wasn't too concerned with hypothermia.  When I returned with my supplies, I noticed the cria was mouth breathing and figured maybe she had some fluid in her nostrils that needed to be cleared.  It was dim in the building, so I took her into the light for a better look.  And a second closer look.  My heart sank. At first look, this baby appeared to be normal, but upon close inspection, her little muzzle was extremely narrow and had no nostrils.  Wow, I've never seen this.  There are a couple of birth defects that this could be an extreme or less extreme case of, but I won't go into details.  Alpacas can breathe through their mouths, but they are not meant to.  Crias must be able to breathe through their noses in order to nurse properly.  So the decision to put this baby down had to me made.  In 14 years, I have had to make this decision with newborn crias 3 times now.  I hate it. Needless to say, Micki will not be bred again.

Last year, I lost 50% of my crias.  One to premature birth, one to a severe dystocia, and one at 3 months to meningeal worm (my only case in 13 years).  This year, I lost 100% of my crias.  Again, severe dystocia, the same presentation exactly as last year, and now this.  I think I may be getting a message that it is time for a change.  To what, I don't know yet.  I planned to always have alpacas around, but unless I breed and have a few new babies a year, I will no longer have good fiber production in just a couple years.  I love the fiber and I love (need) to have the outdoor time everyday.   I have some things to think about.

My new chickens are doing well.  We are up to 4 eggs a day now.  There are 3 who still look somewhat immature, but hopefully in the next couple weeks they will all be laying.  They are roaming all over the yard now in the afternoons, just like their predecessors and I love to watch their comical antics.  Check out how the chick to the right is flapping her wings as she runs so she can go faster and catch up with the rest of the group.  
The county bee inspector was out yesterday to check my hives.  I did not know he was coming so I was at work, which is a shame since I learn so much whenever I get into the hive with someone more knowledgeable than I am.  He talked to Sam after he inspected the hives and said that I could probably take another whole super, or box, of honey off the orchard hive.  I thought I was done with honey harvest after I was in that hive 2 weeks ago.  I guess tomorrow I will suit up and go back in after more honey.  I have a lot of honey for sale.

I am slowly working on winterizing the garden.  This is basil from my herb garden that I was putting in the oven to dry.  I just put it in as low as I can get the oven and leave it for 2 or 3 hours.  Then I can crumble it up and use it all winter.  My squash is hardening in the garden though I have pulled all the dead vines out and piled them up.  I still have some tomatoes ripening and we have been enjoying salads with our fall lettuce, which is doing very well, and our garden fresh tomatoes.  A treat!  In the next week I plan to plant next year's garlic crop as well.

It is definitely fall.  The days are getting shorter and the evening sunlight is golden through the trees.  Our temperatures have been very warm this week, upper 70's and the forecast for the weekend is calling for highs in the low 80's.  I will enjoy it while I can.  Fall of course means bow season for deer is in.  Sam has been out a few times and has not had a shot at a deer.  He was fortunate enough the other evening to watch a bobcat that he said was almost as big as Grover as it moved beneath the tree he was in.  I would love to see that, but I am not sure I could sit in the tree stand day after day with only the *hope* that a bobcat would come along.  I wonder if I could knit?

Sam was on his way to his tree stand a couple days ago  and he passed the 3 dogs and me coming down the hill from the pond on our walk.  He collected the camera from me in hopes he might see the bobcat again, but he did not.  
As for fibery pursuits, I started skirting my fleeces to send off for yarn.  I skirted 4 fleeces, which takes a lot of time the way I do it.  Since I pay by the pound, I want to send as little dirt and crud in the fiber as possible, and I only want to send the best parts of each fleece.  It is not my favorite chore.  It is easier though when it is not 90 degrees.

I am taking a break on my sweater to work on holiday projects that I can't really post about here.  You never know who will read this.  I will knit a small holiday project, then work on the sweater for a while, then knit another small project, etc.  You get the picture.  I am also warping up my big loom.  More holiday giving. 



  1. I am so sorry about your crias. I hope the right inspiration for moving forward comes to you soon and brings you comfort and peace.

    Two dogs + a toy in a tub = too ridiculously adorable.

  2. Thanks JoAnna, it really never gets easier, I just seem to get over it sooner. Acceptance? I suppose. I have been thinking for a while now about dual purpose sheep and maybe some Boer goats? I have several alpacas who deserve to live out the rest of their lives here. We'll see what happens. Life is still great on the farm.
    My boys are adorable, aren't they?